Mocárabe, Honeycomb work, or Stalactite work (Arabic al-halimat al-‘uliya, “the overhang”) is an ornamental design used in certain types of Islamic architecture that spread throughout the Islamic world in the 12th century. The design consists of a complex array of vertical prisms resembling stalactites. The terms mocárabe and muqarnas are similar and may be used interchangeably at times, but muqarnas do not necessarily have stalactite formations. The stalactite design may be a symbolic representation of the cave where Mohammed received the Koran.[citation needed] Mocárabe was used on friezes, vaults, windows, arches, and columns. The Nasrid dynasty of Granada used mocárabe extensively and used it around the capitals of its columns thereby making a new order of column.

Mocárabe was constructed in a variety of materials including wood and plaster. Under the Nasrid, mocárabe was originally carved into its medium. Later on, moulds were made to cast the designs with clay or plaster. The Nasrid used mocárabe in the Alhambra, most notably in the “Hall of the Abencerrajes.”

Mocárabe was originally introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Almoravids.

Description and history
These are decorative honeycomb elements made of painted stucco, wood, stone or brick. These elements tumble into stalactites or fill the vaults or interior domes of many Muslim buildings 1. The muqarnas originate from the duodeciman refugees in the limestone caves of the Elborz mountains of northern Iran, full of stalactites, to escape the torture of the Seljuks. It was first the Shiite mausoleums that covered themselves with stalactites, before becoming fashionable in the Islamic world. Fashion spread by the duodeciman masons, then Sufi whose convents to the reverse were protected by the Seljuk. These symbolic caves multiplied in imamzadehs. This motif echoes unconsciously to the caves of the cult of Mithra a few centuries earlier.

The first muqarnas appeared in Iran-Iraq at the end of the 11th century, under the Seljuk dynasty (1032); They spread quickly in Syria, Turkey, Egypt and Andalusia the following century. In the eleventh century, Persian literature evokes for the first time to 1077-1078 under the name of “feet of gazelle” ( Ahou Pais ).

They undoubtedly evoke the starry sky at night in the deserts, and connect their symbol to the Arab astronomers of the courts.

They also serve as elements of harmonious transition, between the upper part of a square room, and a dome that surmounts it (as in the example of the Salon of the ambassadors of the Alcazar of Seville ).

When the mocárabes come down from the corners of the room and not from the ceiling, we speak of honeycomb stalactites.

The Nasrid architecture combined the muqarnas with the arch of lambrequins to create the muqarnas arch.

It is peculiar to Islamic architecture and although this type of decoration was created by the Almoravids, we only find examples of this time in North Africa; in the Iberian peninsula was introduced by the Almohads, which is not present in buildings prior to the twelfth century and instead there are magnificent examples in the Alcazar of Seville and the Alhambra in Granada, the peak of Nasrid art, as well as in Mudejar art, and neomudéjar. There are also two coffered ceilings of the castle of Belmonte ( Cuenca ).

Several kings of the Crown of Castile were initially buried under a cupola of muqarnas, among them Enrique II, Enrique III and Isabel the Catholic, before being transferred to the Royal Pantheon of the Cathedral of Granada.

A single muqarnis – if separated from its group – is like a small warrior, or a longitudinal part of it. It is characterized by multiple types and shapes, and it is used only in a multiplication of contiguous rows in the studied distribution and installation, adjacent to the top, so that each group of muqarnas looks like beehives or tablets. The cells are joined together and their elements combine lines and blocks harmonious, mathematical design, finite precision, A specific architectural function, and an aesthetically decorative role that transcends all boundaries, like “surreal” sculptures with a symbolic connotation and beyond. With the muqarnas, the spaces do not end, but some walls are connected with some, with ceilings, domes and balconies. The gaze does not stop at the end, as if it is connected to an ornament that has no beginning to its ornament lines.

The muqarnas cover the concave areas and the sharp surfaces in the corners between the ceiling and the walls and below the balconies in the minarets and the headings of the platforms. It also eliminates the abrupt transition areas from the dome base box to the circular shape. In particular, it dominates the corner and the domes of the domes and its external tables.

Source From Wikipedia